When Your Spouse "Loves" Someone Else
- Friday, October 01, 2010
Admittedly, I become frustrated with leaders or counselors who too quickly encourage the abandoned spouse to accept that it's over and move on. Yes, that advice is sound when there is no hope. However, my experience is that too often we don't count on the power of God and, therefore, make premature judgments about how hopeless a situation might be. I'll make another admission; I've gone through marriage intensives with couples that at the end I would have predicted there was no way they would heal their marriage. Yet I saw it work out.
I think that's a fairly good word to use when God's involved.
For example, recently a couple came through our weekend intensive workshop for marriages in crisis that shared a remarkable story. Though highly involved in their church, she had gotten too close to another member and that had gradually led to adultery. Neither meant for it to happen. No one went looking for that kind of relationship. Like so many others they didn't understand the danger and forged ahead with a friendship that was destined to become a passion. By the time they realized they were on the wrong path, they were so enmeshed with each other that they were convinced that the best thing for everyone - spouses, children, church - was to divorce their spouses and marry each other. The night she told her husband her plans, the emotion was so intense that soon she was in a deep sleep.
He interpreted that as her not caring. The real cause of her deep slumber was the depth of her emotional state. Nevertheless, he spent the rest of the night praying over her sleeping body. He prayed that God would convict her heart; that He would somehow reduce or remove the emotions she had for the other man.
The next morning she awakened with the realization that she wanted to save her marriage and wanted very much to get past the feelings she had for her lover. Shortly thereafter they were in our workshop to learn how it happened, how to heal it, and how to grow in love like they never had before.
That's the only time I've heard the story work just that way.
More often the abandoned spouse prays and prays but the abandoning spouse reacts callously. They don't want to see the error of their actions. They don't want to face the guilt of their wrongdoing. They seek any counsel, from Christians or otherwise, that empathizes with their position and gives any encouragement whatsoever.
Does that mean prayer has no power?
Not at all.
It means that sometimes God works directly on a person's heart in ways beyond human understanding, and sometimes He uses other methodologies.
Praying is powerful. So is doing the right things.
If your spouse has told you that he or she is in love with someone else, I suggest you do the following things.
Ask Yourself This Question
Before giving up on a straying spouse, it would behoove you to ask, "Is my spouse a bad person doing a bad thing, or a good person doing a bad thing?"
Good people sometimes do really stupid things. However, if at heart they are good people, they are worth rescuing. It's your choice, of course, and you can tell your straying spouse to leave and never return. Or, if he or she is a good person involved in a bad situation, you can fight to save your marriage. Our experience is that if a good person gets straightened out, not only can the marriage be saved, but it can be stronger and more loving than it was before.
Things NOT to Do
If you decide to try to save your marriage, immediately stop allowing your spouse to manipulate you in any way. Don't make things easy for him or her. Slow things down and drag things out even if it makes them angry.
Time is on your side, especially if you continually pray for God to intercede and bring trials and tribulations into the sinful relationship.
At the same time, do not cling, beg, whine, plead, or manipulate. It makes you less attractive and intensifies whatever justification he or she has mentally made that allows leaving you. Be strong. Make it clear that while you would like to save the marriage, your life will go on and you will prosper if they don't come back.
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